Australian UFO Researcher
Bill Chalker


Bill Chalker
(Copyright © B. Chalker - 1996)

The author is a leading Australian UFO researcher and a contributing editor to the International UFO Reporter. An industrial chemist with an honours science degree from the University of New England he has worked in quality assurance and laboratory management. His book, The OZ Files - the Australian UFO Story, was published in 1996. He coordinates the NSW based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC) and can be contacted at:

P.O. Box 42,
West Pennant Hills,
NSW, 2125
Telephone: (02) 9484 4680

*Sub Rosa: refers to "under the rose", meaning "in secret".


* The RAAF prefers the more neutral term "UAS" or "Unusual Aerial Sighting".


In 1959 Papua New Guinea was still a territory of Australia. June of that year saw the spectacular "entity" sightings of Reverend Gill and members of his Boainai mission.

Reverend Gill made notes about the experience and sent a copy of his own report - 8 closely typed foolscap pages - to Rev. Crutwell at Menapi Mission, who in turn sent a copy to Mr. D. H. Judge, a Brisbane member of the Queensland Flying Saucer Research Bureau. The report was released to the media and accounts appeared in the media during mid August, 1959, causing a sensation.

I was privileged to have had two extended opportunities to interview Reverend Gill and discuss the events at Boianai. I was impressed with his quiet and certain manner in relating the events.

To maintain the integrity of the original events I have quoted from the Reverend William Gills own account. Only the day before he had composed a letter to the Reverend David Durie, Acting Principal of St. Aidan's College, Dogura, to accompany a report and statement regarding a UFO sighting made by Stephen Moi, an assistant teacher at the mission on June 21st, 1959:

Dear David,
                    Have a look at this extraordinary data. I am almost convinced about the "visitation" theory. There have been quite a number of reports over the months, from reliable witnesses. The peculiar thing about these most recent reports is that the UFO's seem to be stationary at Boianai or to travel from Boianai. The Mt. Pudi vicinity seems to be the hovering area. I myself saw a stationary white light twice on the same night on April 9th, but in a different place each time. I believe your students have also sighted one over Boianai. The A.D.O., Bob Smith and Mr. Glover have all seen it, or similar ones on different occasions - again, over Boianai, although I think the Baniara people said they watched it travel across the sky from our direction. I should think that this is the first time that the "saucer" has been identified as such.

I do not doubt the existence of these "things" (indeed I cannot now that I have seen one for myself) but my simple mind still requires scientific evidence before I can accept the from-outer-space theory. I am inclined to believe that probably many UFO's are more likely some for of electric phenomena - or perhaps something brought about by the atom bomb explosions, etc. That Stephen should actually make out a saucer could be the work of the unconscious mind as it is very likely that at some time he has seen illustrations of some kind in a magazine, or it is very possible that saucers do exist, but it is only a 50/50 chance that they are not earth made, still less that they should carry men (more likely radio controlled), and it is still unproven that they are solids.

It is all too difficult to understand for me; I prefer to wait for some bright boy to catch one to be exhibited in Martin Square.

Please return this report as I have no copy and I want Nor. [Rev. Norman Crutwell - B.C.] to have it.

Doubting William

Anglican Mission Boianai

Dear David,
                    Life is strange, isn't it? Yesterday I wrote you a letter, (which I still intend sending you) expressing opinions re the UFO's - Now, less than 24 hours later I have changed my views somewhat. Last night we at Boianai experienced about 4 hours of UFO activity, and there is no doubt whatsoever that they are handled by beings of some kind. At times it was absolutely breathtaking. Here is the report. Please pass it round, but great care must be taken as I have no other, and this, like the one I made out re Stephen, will be sent to Nor. I would appreciate it if you could send the lot back as soon as poss.

Cheers, Convinced Bill

P.S. Do you think P. Moresby should know about this? (N. Cruttwell is at present in the Daga country and will not be returning home until 16th July at earliest.) If people think it worth while, I will stand the cost of a radio conversation if you care to make out a comprehensive report from the material on my behalf!! It's interesting Territory news if nothing else.


26/6/59 U.F.O. Boianai

DATA (1)

Patches of low cloud; clear over Dogura and Menapi 6.45 Sighted bright white light from front direction N.W.
6.50 Call Stephen and Eric - Langford
6.52 Stephen arrives. Confirms not star like other night. Coming closer, not so bright. Coming down 500 ft?, orange?, deep yellow?
6.55 Send Eric to call people. One object on top, move - man? Now three men - moving, glowing, doing something on deck. Gone.
7.00 Men 1 & 2 again.
7.04 Gone again.
Cloud ceiling covered sky c. 2000' 7.10 Man 1, 3, 4, 2 (appeared in that order.) Thin elct. blue spot light. Men gone, spot light still there.
7.12 Men 1 & 2 appeared - blue light.
7.20 Spot light off, men go.
7.20 UFO goes through cloud.
Clear sky here, heavy cloud over Dogura 8.28 UFO seen by me overhead. Call station people. Appeared to descend, get bigger. Not so big, but seemed nearer than before.
8.29 Second seen over sea - hovering at times.
Clouds forming again 8.35 Another over Wadobuna village.
Another to the east.
8.50 Big one stationary and larger - the original (?) Others coming and going through clouds. As they descend through cloud, light reflected like large halo onto cloud - no more than 2000', probably less. All UFO's very clear - satellites? "Mother" ship still large, clear, stationary.
9.05 Nos. 2, 3, 4 gone
9.10 "Mother" ship gone - giving red light. No. 1 gone (overhead) into cloud.
9.20 "Mother" back.
9.30 "Mother" gone across sea towards Giwa - white, red, blue, gone.
9.46 Overhead U.F.O. re-appears, is hovering.
10.00 Still there, stationary
10.10 Hovering, gone behind cloud.
10.30 Very high, hovering in clear patch of sky between clouds.
10.50 Very overcast, no sign of U.F.O.
11. 4 Heavy rain

1 Q A. !!!

Data sheet of observation of U.F.O.'s
6.45 - 11.4 p.m.


(Sgd.) William B. Gill

As indicated by his notes made at the time and in numerous interviews, Rev. Gill saw a bright white light in the north western sky. It appeared to be approaching the mission. The object appeared to be hovering between three and four hundred feet up. Eventually 38 people, including Rev. Gill, Steven Gill Moi (a teacher), Ananias Rarata (a teacher) and Mrs. Nessie Moi, gathered to watch the main UFO, which looked like a large, disc-shaped object. It was apparently solid and circular with a wide base and narrower upper deck. The object appeared to have 4 "legs" underneath it. There also appeared to be about 4 "panels" or "portholes" on the side of the object, which seemed to glow a little brighter than the rest. At a number of intervals the object produced a shaft of blue light which shone upwards into the sky at an angle of about 45 degrees.

What looked like "men" came out of the object, onto what seemed to be a deck on top of the object. There were 4 men in all, occassionally 2, then one, then 3, then 4. The shaft of blue light and the "men" disappeared. The object then moved through some clouds. There were other UFO sightings during the night.

Rev. Gill described the weather at variable sky - scattered clouds to clear at first, becoming overcast after 10.10 pm. He estimated the height of the clouds at about 2,000 feet. The first sighting over the sea, according to Rev. Gill, seemed no more than 500 feet above the water at times. When the main UFO was at its closest point, Rev. Gill determined that the relative size at arms length was a full hand span or about 8 inches. He modified that estimate to 5 inches. It was clearly visible and seemed mostly stationary during 25 minutes of observation.

Astonishingly the aerial visitor put in a repeat performance the following night, June 27th. Rev. Gill prepared a statement:

Saturday, 27/6/59

Large U.F.O. first sighted by Annie Laurie at 6 p.m. in apparently same position as last night (26/6/59) only seemed a little smaller, when W.B.G. saw it at 6.02 p.m. I called Ananias and several others and we stood in the open to watch it. Although the sun had set it was still quite light for the following 15 minutes. We watched figures appear on top - four of them - no doubt that they are human. Possibly the same object that I took to be the "Mother" ship last night. Two smaller U.F.O's were seen at the same time, stationary. One above the hills west, another overhead. On the large one two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the centre of the deck - were occassionally bending over and raising their arms as though adjusting or "setting up" something (not visible). One figure seemed to be standing looking down at us (a group of about a dozen). I stretched my arm above my head and waved. To our surprise the figure did the same. Ananias waved both arms over his head then the two outside figures did the same. Ananias and self began waving our arms and all four now seemed to wave back. There seemed to be no doubt that our movements were answered. All mission boys made audible gasps (of either joy or surprise, perhaps both).

As dark was beginning to close in, I sent Eric Kodawara for a torch and directed a series of long dashes towards the U.F.O. After a minute or two of this, the U.F.O. apparently acknowledged by making several wavering motions back and forth. Waving by us was repeated and this followed by more flashes of torch, then the U.F.O. began slowly to become bigger, apparently coming in our direction. It ceased after perhaps half a minute and came no further. After a further two or three minutes the figures apparently lost interest in us for they disappeared "below" deck. At 6.25 p.m. two figures re-appeared to carry on with whatever they were doing before the interruption (?). The blue spot light came on for a few seconds twice in succession."

Reverend Gill has described how he and the mission people called out to the men, even shouting at them, and beckoned them to descend, but there was no response beyond what has already been noted. Two smaller "UFOs" higher up remained stationary. By 6.30 p.m. the scene had remained largely unchanged. Rev. Gill records that he went to dinner. At 7.00 pm, the "No.1 UFO" was still present "but appeared somewhat smaller". The group of observers went to Church for Evensong. After Evensong (about 7.45 pm) visibility was very limited with the sky covered in cloud. Nothing else was seen that evening. At 10.40 pm, a very penetrating "earsplitting" terrific explosion woke up people on the station. It sounded like it had come from just outside the window of the mission house. Rev. Gill felt it did not sound like a thunderclap. Nothing had been seen, but the whole sky was overcast. Other less compelling activity occurred the following night. Then it seemed the Boianai visitants had gone. The controversy had just begun.

Reverend Gill was at the time of his sightings already scheduled to return to Australia. This presented civilian groups with an excellent opportunity to assess the bonafides of the reports. All investigators found Gill to be very impressive. His credibility was enormous. This lead one of the leading civilian groups, the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society, to view the Gill reports as constituting the most remarkable testimony of intensive UFO activity ever reported to civilian investigators in the entire history of UFO research. VFSRS indicated that they were unique because for the first time, credible witnesses had reported the presence of humanoid beings associated with UFOs. The VFSRS report concluded that the Boianai UFOs were advanced craft, manned by humanoid beings, capable of a fantastic aerodynamic performance. VFSRS now felt that UFO researchers no longer needed to enquire as to the nature of UFOs, now only their origin was to be determined.

The major civilian groups of the day, in a spirit of new found cooperation inspired by the significance of the Boianai observations, distributed copies of Reverend Gill's own sighting report to all members of the House of Representatives of Australia's federal parliament. A circular letter accompanied the report, signed by the presidents of the participating civilian UFO groups, urging members of parliament to press the Minister for Air for a statement about the attitude Air Force Intelligence had of the New Guinea reports.

On November 24th, 1959, in federal parliament, Mr. E.D. Cash, a Liberal politician from Western Australia asked the Minister for Air, Mr. F.M. Osborne, whether his department (specifically Air Force Intelligence) had investigated "reports of recent sightings of mysterious objects in the skies over Papua and New Guinea." The Minister's reply did not address this question, but instead he focused on the general situation indicating that most sightings were explained and "that only a very small percentage -- something like 3 percent -- of reported sightings of flying objects cannot be explained".

Peter Norris, VFSRS president, was advised by the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence that the Department was awaiting "depth of evidence" on the New Guinea sightings. However the department hadn't even interviewed Father Gill. Given the growing political fallout, the Minister for Defence requested a report on "the alleged sightings of UFOs in the Boianai area of NG by Rev. W.B. Gill." The RAAF finally visited Rev. Gill on December 29th, 1959. Rev. Gill's recollections of the visit were that the 2 RAAF officers from Canberra talked about stars and planets and then left. He indicates that he heard no more from them. The interviewing officer, Squadron Leader F.A. Lang, AI1 DAFI, concluded after what could have only been best described as a cursory investigation that:

"Although the Reverend Gill could be regarded as a reliable observer, it is felt that the June/July incidents could have been nothing more than natural phenomena coloured by past events and subconscious influences of UFO enthusiasts. During the period of the report the weather was cloudy and unsettled with light thunder storm. Although it is not possible to draw firm conclusions, an analysis of rough bearings and angles above the horizon does suggest that at least some of the lights observed were the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Light refraction, the changing position of the planets relative to the observer and cloud movement would give the impression of size and rapid movement. In addition varying cloud densities could account for the human shapes and their sudden appearance and disappearance".

A close analysis of the reports argues powerfully that the RAAF "explanation" of "either known planets seen through fast moving cloud, or natural phenomena" was unsatisfactory.

Over the years there have been a number of attempts to explain the Boianai sightings, including astronomical misidentifications, hoax, cargo cult effects, and that Rev. Gill had myopia and astigmatism (Rev. Gill was wearing correctly prescribed glasses). None of these explanations have satisfactorily addressed the evidence. Astronomer and former US Air Force consultant, Dr. Allen Hynek, and his Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), went to great lengths to investigate and research the affair. Dr. Hynek and Allen Hendry, the then chief CUFOS investigator, concluded the "lesser UFOs' are attributable to bright stars and planets, but not the primary object." Its size and absence of movement over three hours ruled out an astronomical explanation. My own discussions with Rev. Gill led me to the same conclusion. Most recently there was an attempt at explaining the whole affair away as Rev. Gill and the other witnesses being confused by a false horizon, and that all they had been watching was a brightly lit squid-boat and crew too busy to do more than just wave at the people on shore. This idea is not tenable when one realises that Rev. Gill was certain that the object he saw was at a 30° elevation in the sky. Only a massive tidal wave might have elevated the horizon ocean line to have a boat high enough to fit that viewing perspective. I suspect Rev. Gill and the Papuans may have noticed that! A mirage is also not tenable given the circumstances of the event.

The Boianai visitations are even enshrined in a classic piece of Australian fiction. Award winning Australian novelist Randolph Stow's 1979 book Visitants, which has the Boianai visitations as a backdrop to a striking story of confrontation and disintergration, emerged from Stow's experience as a cadet patrol-officer in Papua-New Guinea. He was an assistant to the Government Anthropologist. His novel opens with this sentence: "On 26 June 1959, at Boianai in Papua, visitants appeared to the Reverend William Booth Gill, himself a visitant of thirteen years standing, and to thirty-seven witnesses of another colour."

The Boianai "visitants" still stand as remarkable evidence for an impressive aerial anomaly and are regarded as some of the best entity reports on record. At the time of writing I spoke again with Rev. Gill. He still remains puzzled by what he saw and was pleased that an authority like Dr. Hynek had independently interviewed him and some of the other witnesses and travelled to the site. While he accepts that the sightings remain unexplained, Rev. Gill questioned my characterisation of some attempts to explain them as "silly". He felt that these "explanations" were serious attempts to bring understanding to the events. I think that attitude encapsulates the integrity of Rev. Gill and the reality of the affair.


The Cressy area of Tasmania became the centre of a spectacular wave of sightings in October and November, 1960. An entirely credible witness was at the centre of the milieu. Once again, an Anglican priest reported that he had seen a UFO. The Reverend Lionel Browning and his wife witnessed a fantastic sight from the dining room of the Cressy Anglican rectory on 4th October, 1960. A detailed account appeared in the Launceston Mercury of October 10th headlined "'FLYING SAUCER' SEEN AT CRESSY. Mysterious ships in the sky". A succession of media stories followed elevating the sighting in to national prominence.

Again, because of the undeniable credibility of the witness, the RAAF were in a difficult position in their efforts to contain the rapidly escalating public clamour.

Wing Commander Waller interviewed Rev. Browning and his wife on November 11th, at their Cressy home. Waller concluded that the couple were "stable, responsible and unexcitable individuals who would not perpetrate a hoax", and were "genuinely and firmly convinced that they saw actual objects." He confirmed this assessment in a letter to Dr. James McDonald, who undertook a retrospective investigation into the sighting during his 1967 Australian visit.

Wing Commander Waller's report provided a statement based on the Reverend Browning written statement:

"He and his wife were standing in the dining room ... looking out through the window at a rainbow over some low hills approximately 8 miles to the east. The hills, the highest of which are approximately 800 feet, were partlyobscured by low cloud and rain. ...(His) wife drew his attention to a long cigar shaped object which was emerging from a rain squall.

"The object was a dull greyish colour, had 4 or 5 vertical dark bands around its circumference ... and had what looked like a short aerial array which projected outwards and upward from the northern facing end of the object. The object seemed to be slightly longer than Viscount aircraft which Mr. Browning frequently sees flying in that area and he therefore estimated the objects length as about one hundred feet. The outline of the object was well defined and was even more so a little later when it had as a backdrop the tree covered slopes of a rain free area of the hills...

"The object after emerging from the rain squall moved on an even keel in a northerly direction at an estimated speed of sixty to seventy MPH and at a constant height of approximately four hundred feet....(It) moved approximately one and a half miles north ... and then abruptly stopped. Within seconds it was joined by five or six small saucer like objects which had emergedat high speed from the low cloud above and behind ... (They) stationed themselves at positions around the cigar shaped object at a radius of one half of a mile and then, after an interval of several seconds the cigar shaped object accompanied by the smaller objects, abruptly reversed back towards and then into the rain squall from which it had emerged ... In all, the cigar shaped object had been visible for approximately one minute..."

The Brownings watched the area for several more minutes but the objects did not reappear. Another person, a Mrs. D. Bransden, also witnessed the spectacle, describing it as like "a lot of little ships flocking around a bigger one".

In a minute dated November 14th, 1960, the Director of DAFI (operations) reported to the Staff officer to the Australian government Minister of Air that "a preliminary analysis of the available information indicates that this sighting was some form of natural phenomena associated with the unsettled weather conditions."

Wing Commander Waller, in a letter to Dr. James McDonald, indicated that the couple "impressed me as being mature, stable, and mentally alert individuals, who had no cause or desire to see objects in the sky other than objects of definite form and substance." Such comments by the RAAF investigative officer are difficult to reconcile with the Air Force Intelligence statement released a few days after Wing Commander Waller's interviews. It dismissed the observation as "a phenomena (caused by) a moon rise associated with meteorological conditions at the time."   The intelligence report further stated,   "The presence of 'scud' type clouds, moving in varying directions due to turbulence in and around a rain squall near where the objects were sighted, and the position of the moon or its reflections, produced the impression of flying objects."

Reverend Browning indicated that at no time during the 90 minute Air Force intelligence interview was he asked about clouds. He added, "At no time was there cloud or scud when I saw the objects. The mountain was not the backdrop to what I saw. The rain cleared in front of us although it was still raining near the mountains. I saw the objects in the sky where there was no rain and the rain near the mountains provided the backdrop..."

Dr. McDonald, an acknowledged international expert in meteorology and atmospheric physics concluded "the official suggestion .... seems entirely out of the question."

The RAAF's attempts to explain the Cressy sighting away were rather hollow, particularly given an intriguing sighting report I found buried in the DAFI UFO files. On November 15, 1960, some 50 kilometres north of Cressy, a United States Air Force JB-57 aircraft, operating out of East Sale RAAF base, encountered a UFO. The USAF pilot's report in the RAAF UFO files stated:

"Approximately 1040 LCL while flying on a mission track 15 miles north of Launceston. My navigator ______ called out an aircraft approaching to our left and slightly lower.

"Our altitude at the time was 40,000 feet, TAS of 350 knots, heading of 340 degrees.

"I spotted the object and immediately commented to __ (the navigator) that it was not an aircraft, but looked more like a balloon. We judged its altitude to be approximately 35,000 feet, heading 140 degrees and its speed extremely high.

"From a previous experience I would say its closing rate would have been in excess of 800 knots. We observed this object this object for five or seven seconds before it disappeared under the left wing.

"Since it was unusual in appearance, I immediately banked to the left for another look, but neither of us could locate it.

"The colour of the object was nearly translucent somewhat like that of a 'poached egg'. There were no sharp edges but rather fuzzy and undefined. The size was approximately 70 feet in diameter and it did not appear to have any depth."


At 7 am, February 15th, 1963, Charles Brew bore witness to a classic close encounter. With his 20 year old son, Trevor, Brew was at work in the milking shed on their farm, "Willow Grove", near Moe, Victoria. It was light, but rain clouds lay overhead. Charles Brew was standing in an open area, with a full view of the eastern sky. It was from that direction that hesaw a strange object appear and descend very slowly towards the milk shed. The objects approach was coincident with the cattle and a pony reacting violently. The 2 farm dogs fled. A local newspaper even reported that the cows turned somersaults, a suggestion the Brews denied.

The UFO descended to an apparent height of between 75 and 100 feet, hovering over a large Stringy-Bark tree. It was about 25 feet in diameter and 9 to 10 feet high. The top section appeared to be a transparent dome of a glass-like material, from which protruded a 5 to 6 foot high mast or aerial. The "aerial" appeared to be as thick as a broom and resembled bright chrome. The top portion of the disc itself was battle-ship grey in colour and appeared to be of a metallic lustre. The base or underside section glowed with a pale blue colour and had "scoop-like protuberances about 12 to 18 inches apart around the outside edge." This section rotated slowly at about one revolution per second. This spinning motion apparently caused the protuberances to generate a swishing noise, somewhat like a turbine noise, that was clearly audible not only to Brew but also to his son Trevor, who was located inside the shed near the operating diesel powered milking machine units.

Charles Brew described how he felt his eyes were drawn towards the ob ject "as though beams of magnetic current" were between it and him. He also experienced a peculiar headache which came on with the approach of the object. Even though Brew normally did not suffer migraine, the use of tablets did not subdue the headache.

After hovering for a few seconds the object began to climb at roughly a 45 degree angle, continuing on its westward course and passing up into the cloud deck again. Trevor did not see the UFO, but confirmed the unusual sound, like a "diggerydoo" or "bullroarer" - aboriginal artifacts which can produce a pulsating wind rushing noise.

Flt. Lt. N. Hudson and Sqd. Ldr. A.F. Javes of the RAAF interviewed Charles Brew on site on March 4th, 1963. While impressed with his credibility, the weather at the time of the sighting - heavy continuous rain with very low cloud and poor visibility, and with a fresh wind in an easterly direction, caused them to focus on weather related explanations. Their report describes the basis of their somewhat extraordinary "explanation" for the incident:

"On 6th March, Dr. Berson and Mr. Clark (of the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation) Meteorological Physics division) were interviewed to see if clouds give this type of phenomenon. They agreed that a tornado condition could give this effect. The direction of rotation of Brew's report of the object was consistent with known facts for the Southern Hemisphere. The blue-ish colouring has been reported previously and is probably due to electric discharge and there would be a smell of ozone. The only difference in Brew's report was that the object moved from East to West because all previous reports to the CSIRO Met section of this nature have been from West to East. Mr. Brew stated that the wind was fresh from an easterly direction. However, (a) meteorological report states that wind was westerly at 8 knots."

The report notes that the met report was from a Yallourn observer, which is about 20 kilometres away, therefore local variations in the weather would not have been unusual.

Despite this lack of rigour in determining how relevant their hypothesis was, the RAAF officer' report concluded, "There is little doubt that Brew did witness something, and it is most likely that it was a natural phenomenon. The phenomenon was probably a tornado. There was no reported damage along its path, therefore one could assume that it was weak in nature."

The Department of Air responded to a civilian UFO group enquiry about the incident with the following statement, "Our investigation and enquiries reveal that there are scientific records of certain tornado-like meteorological manifestations which have a similar appearance in many ways to whatever was seen by Mr. Brew. The information available is such however, that while we accept this is a possibility, we are unable to come to any firm conclusion as to the nature of the object or manifestation reported." The official sighting summaries removed any such doubt. By then the "possible cause" was listed as a "tornado like meteorological manifestation." In correspondence with the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society, the CSIRO's Dr.Berson indicated, "we are unable to come to any firm conclusion as to the nature of the object or manifestation reported." It seems clear that the RAAF were largely parroting the CSIRO's conclusions and taking things a little further without any realistic justification. Their musings pre-empted Terence Meaden's "vortex" hypothesis by some 2 decades.

Dr. Berson and an associate visited Charles Brew at the Willow Grove property. According to Brew, Dr. Berson was interested in the headache that he had, and indicated that Berson had said that it tied in with their theory of a possible electromagnetic nature of the incident. The CSIRO's field investigation had in fact preceded that the RAAF by about a week. There was evidently extensive interest from the military and government scientists. Brew indicated that the RAAF officers told him that the object he saw was similar to those seen overseas and that it was the best sighting they had looked at.

What the Department of Air referred to as a "tornado-like meteorological manifestation" elicited the following emotive description from Charles Brew. It mirrors the striking nature of his encounter with the "unknown". He said, "I wished it would come again. It was beautiful. I could feel the life pulsating from it."

Dr. James McDonald visited Charles Brew during his 1967 Australian trip interviewing him at the site of the 1963 incident. McDonald concluded, "like that of many other UFO witnesses, it is extremely difficult to explain in present-day scientific or technological terms."

Despite the extraordinary nature of the Willow Grove incident and the high level of official interest in it, the sighting was listed in a subsequently released "Summary of Unidentified Aerial Sightings reported to Department of Air, Canberra, ACT, from 1960" as having a possible cause of "tornado like meteorological manifestation."

According to the summary we have to wait until January 23rd, 1964, for the first official "unknown" in the RAAF Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) files. For a list of "Aerial sightings" it is unusual for it was reported as located in water. The summary describes the report as follows:

"Seen at sea by crew of a vessel NE Point of Groote Eylandt, WA. Large lights in water, made compass go 'Haywire'. Shadow in centre of lights rotated clockwise, causing lights to pulsate."

Biologist, Ivan T. Sanderson, lists it in his book Invisible Residents - A Disquisition upon Certain Matters Maritime, and the Possibility of Intelligent Life under the Waters of This Earth in a listing of submarine "Lightwheels". Sanderson sourced his brief listing from a newspaper article.

The Air Force Intelligence files hold a report of the unusual sighting made by the crew of the landing craft Loellen M. The incident was located between Cape Grey and the north east point of Groote Eylandt, a large island on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory. The official summary incorrectly lists the incident as occurring in 'WA" (Western Australia). The report mentions that the vessel encountered a number of submarine "light patches":

"C. W__ turned on the compass light and found the vessel approx 60° off course. The compass went 'Haywire'.

As soon as he had corrected the vessel as best he could, he switched off the compass light and found the un-natural light was about 6ft. on the Starboard side. The light was in the water. It was described as a ghostly white light, in the centre was a shadow which rotated in a clockwise direction causing the light to pulsate. The light appeared to draw away to the stern. It is estimated that it was miles across and a few hundred yards through...

"The light on the water passed about 100 yds to port. As the barge began to return to course, another light was seen coming at the barge at an angle of about 45° which [sic? - with?] the Bow. It came to within inches of the starboard side and appeared to rebound at 45° with the stern and moved away. It disappeared in a few seconds....

"All lights were the same colour, with this strange rotating shadow, causing the lights to pulsate. The pulsations timed at 12 for 9 seconds, then completely irregular, then settled down to 12 for 9 seconds.

"The compass swung out of control, but became worse as the light approached...

This is a fascinating report but its origins may lie in some form of extraordinary bioluminescence.


Another striking case occurred near Vaucluse Beach, one of Sydney's beach suburbs, at about 5.30 pm, on July 19th, 1965. Between showers and high winds, Dennis Crowe, a former technical artist with English aircraft companies, was walking along the beach, near his home. He became aware of a glow coming from what appeared to be a huge disc shaped object resting on leg-like structures. The object's diameter was estimated at some 20 feet. It had a glowing, greenish blue rim, while the top and bottom halves were dull silver grey in appearance. Crowe thought a hollow in the top could have been a glass dome. He could not make out any sign of movement in the object. When he approached the object to within 50 to 60 feet, it suddenly lifted off the ground. A noise, like air being forcibly released from a balloon, was noticed. The UFO climbed rapidly and within 10 seconds had disappeared into clouds. There were no other witnesses to the encounter save a dozen or so dogs. While the object was stationary they were all barking loudly at it. After it took off they were all strangely silent. A geologist made independent calculations at the landing site which confirmed definite traces of an unusual object having rested there. He stated that the vegetation there was dying and would remain dead for a number of years. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) put forward a possible explanation for this extraordinary incident. They suggested it was a "tornado"!

The Vaucluse "tornado" was another remarkable example of an unlikely explanation put forward by the RAAF, that perhaps anticipated meterologist Terence Meaden's "plasma vortex" hypothesis and his extreme applications of it to English "crop circles" of the 80s and 90s, and significant UFO physical trace events.


1966 was again a major year for UFO activity in Australia. The classic UFO landing at Horseshoe Lagoon near Tully, far north Queensland, and witnessed by farmer George Pedley, entered the term UFO "nest" into popular UFO parlance. The locality was the centre of an extended UFO milieu that continued for many years, particularly in 1969, 1972 and 1975. The area was also the site of controversial and fascinating experiments in UFO detection through remote sensing and filming.

Farmer, George Pedley's sighting at Horseshoe Lagoon and the physical evidence found there caused a media sensation. The Tully "UFO nest" affair of 1966 is one of the best known accounts of an apparent UFO landing report. It has been mentioned extensively in the UFO literature over the years,and yet surprisingly many inaccuracies and misconceptions have developed. These problems became more critical when the famous Tully incident of January 19, 1966, once again became the focus of attention, this time due to the English "crop circle" controversy. The prominent schools of thought on the crop circle formations adopted the 1966 Tully incident as a classic example of their percieved explanations for the circle complexes. Their claims about the relevance of the Tully incident as an example of the currently percieved crop circle phenomenon were flawed and generally unfounded.

The RAAF files describe the famous Tully incident in the following manner:

At about 9.00 a.m. on 19th January, 1966, Mr. G.A. Pedley, a banana grower of Tully, Qld, observed a light grey non reflecting dull object, reported to be about 25 feet long and 8 feet deep, rise vertically then climb on an angle of 450 from a height of about 30 feet above marshland which was situated about 25 yards away from his position. There was an associated hissing noise which descreased as the 'object' rose. The apparent shape was described as 'two saucers, face to face', but no structural detail was observed. The duration of the observation was approximately 15 seconds and it disappeared in mid-air whilst receding into the distance (not assessed).

A clearly defined near circular depression remained in evidence in swamp grass at the point from which the object was seen rising, and measured about 32 feet long by 25 feet wide. The grass was flattened in clockwise curves to water level within the circle and the reeds had been uprooted from the mud. There was no scorching of grass or surrounding trees and the observer stated that there was no smell of combustion..."

My research of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) files uncovered the original police report on the incident. As these are the earliest documented sources extracts of it are included here of details not included in the above statement made in 1973 in response to an enquiry from the "Australian" newspaper.

George Pedley reported his experience to Tully Police at 7.30 pm, on January 19th. At 7 am, January 20th George Pedley and Sgt. A.V. Moylan went to the site of the incident. Sgt. Moylan, then contacted Townsville RAAF Base by telephone, on the morning of January 20th. Flt. Lt. Wallace advised Sgt. Moylan that he would forward a proforma questionaire for completion by George Pedley. On Friday, January 21st, Flt. Lt. Wallace confirmed despatch of two copies of the sighting proforma by mail that same day and also requested Sgt. Moylan obtain "a sample of the grass from the scorched area." At 3.30 pm, on the same day, Moylan returned to the site and took a sample "of the grass from the depression in the swamp grass at the site. The proforma was filled out by Moylan based on his interviews with George Pedley and was dated 26/1/66. Sgt. Moylan despatched the report and the sample on 26/1/66.

The following details are extracted from the RAAF "REPORT ON AERIAL OBJECT OBSERVED" Moylan filled out with George Pedley. Because so many conflicting claims have been made about what George Pedley said at the time, it is worthwhile to go back to the documentation filled out then:

Name of Observer: George Alfred PEDLEY aged 28 years.

Manner of observation:
travelling on a tractor about 1/2 mile from farm house of Albert PENNISI, Rockingham Road, Euramo. Attention attracted by hissing noise, clearly heard over noise of tractor-similar to air escaping from tyre; checked tyres and was looking about for source of noise when he saw object about 25 yards ahead. No optical instruments used in sighting.

Height or angle of elevation:
First seen at treetop height 30'. Rose vertically to about twice that height, then departed, climbing at about 45 degrees.

Speed, or angular velocity:
Extremely fast; No estimate of speed, but much faster than an aeroplane.

It was near treetops and these gave observer a good basis for estimating height.

Direction of flight with reference to landmarks or points of the compass:
Rose vertically to about 60 feet and departed south west climbing at about 45 degrees; appeared to be rotating for full time observed. (object appeared to remain on) straight climbing path.

Existence of any physical evidence:
Clearly defined near circular depression in swamp grass at point from which object seen rising, about 32' long and 25' wide. Grass flattened to surface of 4' of water lying in xxxx-clockwise curves.
[Sgt. Moylan, in his report, had typed in anti-clockwise initially and then corrected it to clockwise, by overtyping 'anti' with 'xxxx'. The direction of the swirl at the site of the 19 January 1966 incident was to become a matter of ongoing confusion. The clockwise direction was the correction direction - B.C.]

Weather conditions experienced at time of observation:
Clear sky; Hot sunshine.

Location of any air traffic in the vicinity at the time of sighting: Unknown but checked by RAAF Garbut.

[Flt. Lt. Wallace of Townsville RAAF base in a covering minute paper confirmed that "there were no service or Civil aircraft operating in the area.. at the time of the sighting.." - B.C.]

Any additional information: (Sgt. Moylan wrote)

Observer reported this matter to Tully Police at 7.30pm on 19/1/66 and at 7am, 20/1/66 went with me to the site of the depression in the swamp. His version then included the information that the object rose vertically, appeared to dip slightly and then went off in straight climbing path. He then said...further that there was no smell of combustion and no scorching of grass or trees visible; that the the flattened grass or rushes was quite green when he first saw the depression; on his return that afternoon the grass had turned brown.

(Sgt. Moylan further added:)

In this matter I formed the opinion that the depressed area in the swamp grass had been caused by a small helicopter and that the observer, in the early morning bright sunlight shining on the rotor may have mistaken the shape. His description of the takeofflent some strength to my opinion. However there was cleared land to the east for about 200 yards where such an aircraft could have more safely landed instead of the position indicated by the observer, close to trees. Later I was informed by Wallace Evans of ...Tully, an electrician that he has seen similar markings in a swamp at Kurrumine Beach and is quite certain that it was caused by a whirlwind, sucking up water into a waterspout, uprooting the grass and laying it out in a similar pattern. At 3.30pm, 21/1/66 I took a sample of the grass at the site and have forwarded it under seperate cover on even date.

Flt. Lt. T.D. Wright, for Air Officer Commanding, Headquarters Operational Command, RAAF, Penrith, New South Wales (NSW), on-forwarded police Sgt. Moylan's report on George Pedley's UFO sighting and Flt. Lt. Wallace's covering minute paper, to the Department of Air, Russell Offices, Canberra. His communication classified RESTRICTED, which was channelled to the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI), also indicated, "This headquarters believes that the depressions of the swamp grass were caused by small isolated waterspouts."

In response to an enquiry, dated 2nd February, 1966, from the Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation (CAPIO), the Secretary, Department of Air, Mr. A.B. McFarlane, wrote on 11th February, 1966:

"Investigations of the area surrounding the reported "Nests", testing of samples taken from around them and interrogation of persons involved in the report failed to reveal anything of significance.

"However, during enquiries a number of local residents stated that the reported "nests" are fairly common during the onset of the "wet". Furthermore, the University of Queensland stated that there was nothing unnatural in the samples submitted and assessed that the "nests" could have been the result of severe turbulance, which normally accompany line squalls and thunderstorms prevalent in NORTH QUEENSLAND at the time of the year.

"There is no explanation for the visible phenomena reported but it could have been associated with or the result of "down draughts", "willy willies" or "water spouts" that are known to occur in the area.

".. for information January of this year from an airfield in the tropics (a number of photographs taken give) a fine example of the type and growth of a cloud formation occuring with a severe "down draught"

This whirling mass of tropical air associated with thunderstorm activity, on reaching the earth's surface may dissipate and subside or persist giving rise to dust eddies, water spouts, etc, and leaving a telltale circular pattern on the ground.

Should it occur over a swampy reed bed the effect would be to flatten the reeds with a circular pattern. resultant photographs and investigations of the "nests" seem to fit in with this theory and is accepted as a possible cause of the phenomena."

It is fascinating to note how Secretary McFarlane's cursory explanatory exposition, no doubt inspired by "the tornado-like metereological phenomena" infested skies over Willow Grove, Victoria and Vaucluse Beach, NSW, anticipated by almost 2 decades Dr. Terence Meaden's early theoretical attempts to explain the English "crop circles" of the 1980s. Dr. Meaden would mistakingly assume that George Pedley saw his "vortex" at 9 pm, not 9 am, which is a fatal flaw in the mechanism he put forth to explain the report.

The only other significant official statement on the Tully sighting I found in the RAAF files was included in a letter by Mr. G.J. Odgers, Director of Public Relations, Department of Defence (Air Office), dated 17th December, 1973, directed to Charles Wright, a journalist working on a article for the national newspaper, The Australian.

George Odgers' Air Office public relations department had clearly gleaned from the 1966 DAFI files details of an explanation of what George Pedley seen that the original RAAF officers and Department officers back in 1966 had not determined:

"Although a conclusive determination could not be made, the most probable explanation was that the sighting was of a 'willy willy' or circular wind phenomenon which flattened the reeds and sucked up debris to a height of about 30 feet, thus forming what appeared to be a 'flying saucer', before moving off and dissipating. Hissing noises are known to be associated with 'willy willies' and the theory is also substantiated by the clockwise configuration of the depression.

Mr. Odgers further added, more generally,

"All to often unusual occurrences are reported in sensational terms with little or no attempt made at rational assessment. The general subject is 'newsworthy' and lends itself to sensationalism and guesswork, but in most cases logical explanations follow from careful investigation. You will appreciate that there is nothing to be gained from reopening old cases." [a sentiment I would not agree with - B.C.]


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